All voices singing as one.
Story: Mark Siegel, Alexis Sigel
Art: Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, Boya Sun
What They Say
In book 4, Oona Lee arrives on Salassandra determined to light the yellow beacon and continue her quest to save the Five Worlds from the evil Mimic’s influence. But the beacon is encased in amber! An ancient clue says that Oona and her friends must seek out the Amber Anthem to succeed. Meanwhile, Stan Moon sends an evil Jax robot to assassinate Oona and hunts down An Tzu himself. Turns out, as An Tzu fades away from his Vanishing Illness, he’s becoming someone else–someone who could tip the scales in the battle for the Five Worlds!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
5 Worlds enters its second to last volume with Oona and friends firmly on the path to saving everyone and everything. Yet the darkness of the Mimic remains lurking in plain sight. For every kind-hearted helping hand there is one ready to turn the group in.
Salassandra is a moon of faith. Many different peoples live there and all seem to have a different take on the basic faith of the combined culture of the moons. They all don’t quite exist in harmony with each other, but that low key prejudice lingers everywhere. The racism of the early books is not forgotten. The plant people are still seen as the other, as are the Toki and the newly introduced giant stone-like people who are universally dismissed as dim, lumbering beasts. Oona is understandably upset by the hatred and prejudice she encounters and that’s only the beginning of her troubles.
Stan Moon has been using a spokesperson to spread lies and misinformation to the populace. In a scant few pages his plan to sow distrust and confusion echos the tactics we’ve seen the unscrupulous in our own world use to further their own goals. The businessmen fret over lost income, the people riot for resources, systems have been disrupted. They align easily with the goals of the mimic. There are many who don’t believe what Oona is doing is right, even without the mimic’s influence. Change is frightening, and not all of that change is shown to be good. Some of those in power pursue her and she spends a good deal of time disguising herself as she searches for a way to light the Salassandra beacon. Yet there are those who reach out a hand to her. She seeks out those who walk the path of peace in search of an answer to an ancient riddle.
An Tzu’s journey has really been dictated by the choices of his companions. He has become a hindrance to the journey of his friends, or so he feels. Confronted by yet another vision he comes to a realization which changes how he views himself, the quest his friends are on, and ultimately makes him the largest target of the group.
It’s clear that An Tzu’s identity has been set up from the beginning of the story. Everything is this series is carefully plotted. An Tzu’s debilitating illness is finally shown to be fatal, in a sense. Yet there is a glimmer of hope to restore his life, yet it would mean leaving his friends behind all the same. This series isn’t free of the ‘chosen one’ plot, as Oona was clearly born with a gift. Jax is the one who chose the path of the hero. An Tzu’s role in the story is more complicated, and saving him is tied so deeply into saving the Five Worlds that they might have to sacrifice their friendship to save everyone.
My only real complaint with this volume are a few instances where the story shifts back to An Tzu. The abrupt pacing of those chase sequences feels disconnected from the events surrounding them. They almost have a fever dream aspect that makes me feel like we are missing a scene or two of setup or comedown. It also feels as if An Tzu’s friends, for all their concern about him, left him on his own against the greatest force of evil they know. An Tzu might not be thinking clearly, but after almost getting snatched the first time you’d think they wouldn’t be so flippant about his safety.
Once again, I’m in awe of how two writers and three artists manage to work so cohesively. All aspects of the artwork remain top-notch in both the creativity on display, use of color, and sheer diversity of the cast. The world-building remains top-notch and the entire civilization feels complex and united while also showing off a multitude of drastically different alien societies.
The prescient message of this volume of 5 Worlds couldn’t have come at a more apt time. It feels that it could have been written and drawn last week, which is frightening in of itself. Yet it also is full of boundless hope, beauty, and a reminder that no matter how dark there are always those willing to reach out and join hands with you. Displaying the differences that divide us and the similarities that bring people together, and the idealism and tenacity of those that would see harmony restored against forces that seek only to drive people apart. The Amber Anthem carefully builds on what the previous volumes laid down, never forgetting the events of the past and the friends left behind to fight their own battles.
Content Grade: A –
Art Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A
Age Rating: All Ages
Released By: Random House
Release Date: May 13, 2020
MSRP: Hardcover $20.99 US / $27.99 CN